AUTONOMY AT WORK: Working With People and Big Data to Make the Right Choices

Autonomy and choice is the future of work. In 2016 Louise Sharp, Principal At HLW and I presented at the Future Office conference in LA on this thesis. Many themes are relevant still today. To support our claim, we used HLW projects and other market trends showcasing users desire for choice, flexibility, personalization and porosity.


Autonomy is control over a) What you do: Task (modular) b) When you do it: Time (flexible) c) Where you do it: Space (choice). It is best executed when manager with employee 1. Understand the goal 2. Own your work 3. Be accountable 4. Exercise Trust. Autonomy is enabled with Leadership/HR, Management/Processes, Teams, Tools/ Technology, Physical Environment. In 2020 an estimated 50% of U.S. workers will be Millennials and seek flexibility as a part of the job offer.


Space is a business tool and wanting a sense of autonomy to structure one’s day to be your most productive self requires the support of a range of work styles and work modes. Support that comes from your office space (work settings in your companies office footprint), from your community space (local hubs and outposts closer to home that often double as work and retail spaces) and from your home office space (settings within your own home that support your work styles).


Just as Fitbit helps you assign personal fitness goals and then measures and nudges you to meet those goals, a work experience could do the same. In time, the workplace and property tech industry will help users tune their time and space and help build programs that evaluate and suggest when and where you need FOCUSED vs. COLLABORATIVE work, AMENITY DRIVEN vs. DESK FIRST space, FREEDOM & CHOICE vs. F2F interactions and when you need to work from home, work in your community and when to work from your office.

Space programming 2.0 takes the one time planning efforts of a real estate group and puts it into the hands of the user. The premise is this: Track the user thru surveys or occupancy tracing and find out what is the most powerful space for the most powerful work. The program calculator outputs to the user suggested settings in specific % to help you understand where and how to be your most high performing self.

The next generation of Space Programming is Experience Programming. In this mode, the user is not only give recommendations of what settings are best suited for them, but it also suggests where in their community ecosystem they will likely find these settings. Between HOME, CITY (or local hub) and OFFICE (or central HQ) A personalized ‘experience’ program is generated and tracked to best meet the day to day needs of the ‘free to choose’ worker.